Women's Health FAQ

What is a routine exam and pap smear? When should I have an exam done?

An routine exam consists of a review of your medical history and discussing with the provider if they recommend an exam per American College of Gynecology (ACOG) and Center for Disease (CDC) guidelines.

I am interested in birth control but don't know much about the methods available. How do I learn more?

The online Birth Control Education program provides a thorough review of the birth control methods available. Information is available online at Birth Control Education Class.

What do I need to do to start using a hormonal method of birth control (pills, the patch, IUDs, vaginal ring, or shot)?

Birth Control Education is recommended if you have never used a hormonal method of birth control. This education is available online using McKinley's Online Birth Control Class. If you have used hormonal birth control in the past you are not required to complete the birth control education class, however, you are welcome to do so if you would like to learn more about the different options available.  It is more convenient if you complete the birth control education prior to your appointment. You are required to have a routine physical exam (including a breast exam). If you have had this done at your home doctor's office you should contact them and request that a prescription be faxed to our pharmacy. It is not necessary to have a repeat exam at McKinley. Please refer to the handout, Transferring Outside Contraceptive Prescriptions to McKinley. If you have never had an exam or if your exam was more than one year ago, you may schedule an appointment at McKinley by calling  217-333-2700.

I am ready to start my first pill pack. How do I start taking them?

You have a choice of when to start your first cycle of pills. Review the instructions below and decide which is best for you.  Pick a time of day that will be easy to remember.

Day 1 Start

  1. Take the first active pill of the package during the first 24 hours of your menstrual period.
  2. You will not need to use a backup method of birth control, since you are starting the pill at the beginning of your period.

Quick Start

  1. Start your pill the day you get your pack of pills.
  2. You will need to use a backup method for the next 7 days.

What if I want to stop my birth control pills or switch to another type of hormonal birth control?

Unless instructed by a healthcare provider, it is recommended that you finish a package of pills before discontinuing them. If you are stopping because you are having unpleasant side effects, you should talk to your healthcare provider. Switching to a different brand or dosage of pills may eliminate side effects. You can usually switch to a different method of birth control at the end of a pill pack and will not have any loss in contraceptive protection.

I understand that there are birth control shots available. What are they?

Depo Provera®contains only the progestin hormone. Depo-Provera®is given every three months, and bleeding is unpredictable. A woman will often skip periods when using Depo-Provera®. A handout is available on Depo Provera® for additional information.

I am currently receiving Depo-Provera® from my healthcare provider at home. How do I get started using it at McKinley?

  • Request that your healthcare provider send a copy of your most recent routine exam and pap smear result to McKinley Health Center as soon as possible.
  • You must have written confirmation of the date of your last injection when you come for your appointment.
  • Call  217-233-2700 and schedule an appointment in Women's Health to get your injection.

I am interested in starting Depo-Provera® for the first time. What do I need to do?

Please call 217-333-2700 to schedule an appointment in Women’s Health. The first injection must be given during the first five days of your period, or within the first five days after childbirth (unless you are breast-feeding) or termination of pregnancy.  Talk with your provider about scheduling the first injection if you are currently using another prescribed method of birth control.

How do I get the emergency contraception (Morning-after) pill?

Over-the-counter emergency contraception is available through McKinley Pharmacy to University of Illinois students who are covered under the Health Service Fee. Eligible students may receive one dose of My Way (Levonorgestrel 1.5mg) for free per semester, then $15 for each dose thereafter. Brand name Plan B is available for purchase at $30 per dose. University of Illinois students who have not paid the Health Service Fee may obtain My Way for $15 or Plan B One-Step for $30 for each dose. Supply limits may apply. The sooner emergency contraception is taken the more effective it is. You may want to refer to the handout, Plan B Emergency Contraception (Morning After Pills) for additional information. If you are out of town and/or McKinley services are not available, most pharmacies have emergency contraception available for purchase.
To consult about the use of other emergency contraception, you can contact Women's Health office nurse by calling (217)-244-2501

How do I get a pregnancy test?

You can obtain a home pregnancy test kit in the Health Resource Center, located as you enter the main lobby (walk-up window) at McKinley Health Center, or the Health Resource Center located at Illini Union, Room 40, lower level. There is no cost to you.

I have a positive home pregnancy test. What do I do?

A Women's Health Clinic nurse is available to answer any questions you might have.  Test results are confidential, as is your decision regarding the outcome.  No attempt will be made to influence your decision.You can make an appointment by calling the Women's Health Clinic at 217-333-2700.  You are encouraged to make an appointment as soon as possible.  If you plan to continue the pregnancy, early prenatal care is very important.  If you are planning a termination, fewer complications are associated with terminations done early in pregnancy.  Resource lists are available.  You may wish to review the handout, Pregnancy: A Guide to Decision Making.


How do I obtain prenatal care?

No prenatal care is available at McKinley Health Center. An information packet including community resources for prenatal care is available through Women's Health. You may make an appointment to talk with a Women's Health nurse by calling  217-333-2700. Medically appropriate multivitamins are available in the pharmacy. For additional information, you may refer to the handout, Prenatal Care Information and Resources.

I think I have a yeast infection. What do I do?

If you are experiencing vaginal itching and a thick white discharge and have no visible sores or excessive discomfort, you may go to the Health Resource Center, located in the main lobby (walk-up window) at McKinley Health Center, or the Health Resource Center located at the Illini Union, Room 40, lower level, and request medication to treat a yeast infection. If you are not sure you have a yeast infection, call 217-333-2700 and speak with a Women's Health nurse or the Dial-A-Nurse for assistance.